For those who have been struck by Cupid’s arrow, little keeps the sparks flying like taking a holiday -- especially if it happens to be a Valentine’s Day cruise. Not only is hitting the waves a fabulous way to make memories and reboot your romance, but it also comes with a wealth of luxurious trimmings and trappings; think soul-stirring locations, intimate dining experiences, swanky facilities, and over-the-top service with plenty of perks.
Whether your idea of one-on-one time is gazing across the glistening sea, booking pampering treatments, or holing up in your cabin relishing long lie-ins, you can expect enough vibes of love in the air to sweep you off your feet.
Whatever your preference, there’s a sailing experience to ignite passion for those who are head-over-heels in love. Here’s our pick of the ships and most blissful 2020 Valentine’s Day cruises to get hearts racing.
1. SeaDream II
The ship: The spoil-you factor is high onboard SeaDream Yacht Club’s 112-passenger SeaDream II -- a boutique-style beauty with all the star-studded appeal of its twin, SeaDream I. Ideal for romantic souls, this glamorous vessel wows with eager-to-please staff, all-inclusive dining, and crew-led excursions in less-travelled stops where mega-ships don’t go. There’s also a platform marina, piano bar, lavish casino, and alluring spa.
The romance: Loved-up couples can clink cocktail glasses at the Top of the Yacht bar, savour ingredient-driven cuisine paired with fine wines at the Topside Restaurant, and enjoy free-flowing Champagne and caviar beach parties. There are also snuggle-worthy Balinese sunbeds swathed in high-thread sheets and fluffy duvets for sensual nights spent sleeping under the stars (you’ll even get a pair of signature SeaDream pyjamas embroidered with your first names).
Valentine’s Day sailing: Departing on 8 February, the seven-day Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas to Marigot cruise has a dreamy Valentine’s Day stop in Charlestown -- the charming Nevis capital located on the island’s west leeward coast. Most famous as the birthplace of the first Secretary of the Treasury of the United States, Alexander Hamilton, must-dos include admiring the gorgeous gingerbread Victorian and Georgian-era stone buildings, strolling hand-in-hand around Main Street and along the seafront, and visiting the Horatio Nelson Museum. Don’t miss the Alexander Hamilton Museum to learn more about the man whose portrait features on the $10 bill.
2. Royal Clipper
The ship: A lovey-dovey vibe is guaranteed onboard this 227-passenger vessel inspired by Preussen -- the iconic German five-masted tall ship built in 1902. The most glamorous offering of the Star Clippers line, Royal Clipper eclipses the rest of the fleet in terms of size (the other two are nearly 80 feet shorter) and offers three top-deck swimming pools, superb gourmet dining, and a marina platform from which you can explore reefs, underwater wrecks, and lagoons.
The romance: Dewy-eyed lovers can climb the ship's soaring masts to soak up sublime views (you’ll be strapped to a safety harness while scrambling up a 65-foot rope ladder to the crow's nest). There’s also the opportunity to enjoy top-to-toe pampering at the Captain Nemo Underwater Spa, take yoga and meditation classes, and work up a sweat in the gym. To impress your partner, book a Deluxe Suite with a whirlpool tub, private balcony, and 24-hour room service.
Valentine’s Day sailing: Sailing out of Barbados on 8 February, the seven-night Windward Islands cruise makes swoon-worthy stops in St. Lucia, Dominica, Antigua, St. Kitts, and Iles des Saintes. You’ll get to spend and idyllic Valentine’s Day in Martinique -- the mountainous French Caribbean island famed for its smouldering Mont Pelée volcano, mouth-watering Creole cooking, and sparkling sandy beaches backed by turquoise-tinted waters. Take time to explore Fort-de-France on foot, marvel at the 17th-century Fort Saint-Louis, and browse in the local markets and boutique shops (stocking up on rum from a supermarket or distillery is always a good shout).
3. Crystal Esprit
The ship: It’s easy to be seduced by the 62-passenger Crystal Esprit, the first ultra-luxe yacht launched by Crystal Cruises (it was christened in December 2015 at Eden Island Marina in Mahé). Complete with high-end facilities (including a shallow draft for reaching secluded harbours, coves, and islands not accessible to larger ships), it tempts with sleek design touches throughout (most apparent in cabins, all of which have comfy queen- or king-size beds).
The romance: Given that this intimate yacht provides an intuitive, luxury service, romancing couples will be left wanting for nothing; think excellent restaurants with imaginative cuisine, a reliably good activity schedule, and a two-passenger submarine and four ten-passenger zodiacs for engaging excursions. Equally appealing is the Sunset Deck for its lovely pool, sauna, gym, grill, occasional movie screenings, and bar for generous pours of Champagne, wine and premium spirits.
Valentine’s Day setting: Departing from Mahe on 14 February, the nine-night Seychelles Yachting Serenade promises epic thrills in this 115-strong island archipelago. Every single tropical fantasy is realised; think white sands, spellbinding Indian Ocean waters, jungle-covered hills, hidden coves, and majestic granite cliffs. Itinerary highlights include Mahe for its show-stopping Petite Anse Beach, Praslin for its jungle-covered interior and national park, and La Digue for its colonial buildings, old-fashioned bicycles, and hawksbill turtles that come ashore in the daytime to lay their eggs.
4. Regal Princess
The ship: Romance in all its guises is royally embraced on board the 3,560-passenger Regal Princess, the magnificent mega-ship operated by Princess Cruises and launched in 2014 by HRH, The Duchess of Cambridge. There are more than 1,400 balconies, a SeaWalk glass-bottomed enclosed walkway, an adults-only sp, and a television studio. The Watercolor Fantasy water and light show featuring dancing fountains tops things off rather nicely.
The romance: Amorous passengers can mark Valentine’s Day by renewing their vows in a ceremony officiated by Gavin MacLeod, Captain Stubing in TV series “The Love Boat” (actress Jill Whelan will act as matron of honour). You can also book a Sweetheart’s Package with a bottle of Champagne, chocolate-dipped strawberries, and red roses or an Engagement Package if you’re planning on popping the question and fancy having your proposal captured on camera.
Valentine’s Day setting: Departing from Fort Lauderdale on 9 February 2020, the seven-day Western Caribbean roundtrip cruise has ports of call including Princess Cays (Bahamas), Ocho Rios (Jamaica), and Grand Cayman (Cayman Islands). The vow renewing ceremony will take place onboard the ship in Cozumel -- Mexico’s paradise port of call celebrated for its white-sand beaches, azure waters, and ancient Mayan ruins. Must-dos here include snorkelling through spectacular coral reefs, keeping your eyes peeled for sea turtles, crocodiles, and other wildlife at Punta Sur Ecological Park, and visiting a pearl farm. Alternatively, glue yourselves to a sunlounger for the duration.
5. Viking Star
The ship: Unveiled in 2015 as the flagbearer for Viking Ocean Cruises, the adults-only 930-passenger Viking Star ups the ante for wooing your other half. There are two cinemas, fabulous Nordic-style interiors throughout and a seriously stunning spa that has a snow grotto, sauna, heated stone relaxation beds, treatment rooms, and a fitness centre.
The romance: When visible, the otherworldly aurora borealis (northern lights) take centre stage -- and little beats watching these dazzling ribbons of purple and green light up the night sky. You can also cosy up for evening cocktails, enjoy couples’ massages, and make the most of jaw-dropping views. Alternatively, take advantage of the exhilarating excursions on offer, including snowshoeing in the Arctic, sailing the fjords, and sledding with huskies across the frozen tundra.
Valentine’s Day setting: Departing from London on 3 February 2020, the 12-night In Search of the Northern Lights cruise offers exciting Norwegian stops in Stavanger, Bodo, Tromso, Alta, and Narvik. You’ll get to spend Valentine’s Day in Bergen - the scenic and quaint city famously surrounded by seven hills and seven fjords. Highlights include strolling along the waterfront at the enduring UNESCO-listed Bryggen wharf, checking out the vibrant street art scene, visiting the Hanseatic Museum, and enjoying the photogenic landscape. It’s also worth taking a ride on the Fløibanen funicular to the top of Mount Fløyenfunicular for off-the-scale views.
6. Scarlet Lady
The ship: The highly anticipated first ship from Virgin Voyages’ adults-only, 2,750-passenger Scarlet Lady sets sail in 2020 for her inaugural season in the Caribbean. And while you’ll have to wait until 2021 for Valentine’s Day bookings, the hype for this love-in is huge. Highlights include 1,330 cabins and 78 RockStar suites (86 percent boasting balconies), over 20 dining options, tons of couple-friendly entertainment, and a unique onboard wellness programme.
The romance: Appealing to high-spirited, fun-loving, and energetic sailors (not passengers), all the conventional cruise offerings are chucked overboard. Twosomes can get matching tattoos, dine whenever they please, watch drag queen-heavy shows, and even join mixology and cookery classes. There’s also an on-board vinyl record shop, sensational spa, blow dry bar and barber shop, and futuristic-looking outdoor lounge and private club reserved for suite guests.
Valentine’s Day setting: Departing on 7 February 2021, the eight-night Fire & Sunset Soirées with Miami Beach Stay includes stops in Key West and Bimini (the closest Bahamian island to the USA). You’ll spend Valentine’s Day in Miami, the so-called Magic City where must-dos include hitting South Beach for its sugar-white sands and swaying palm trees, the Art Deco District for its whimsical 1920s and 1930s buildings, and Ocean Drive for its cool vibe (especially the stretch from 5th to 15th streets where the beach is wonderfully wide). Shop-loving couples can drain their wallets at Bal Harbour Shops, Aventura Mall, Lincoln Road Mall, and the Design District.